Gender equality within many industries has come a long way in terms of employment, empowerment and pay-grades. Logistics and the supply chain can be misperceived as a male dominated industry, with minimal female voices and traction. This notion derives partially from the hands on and often physical elements of the industry, however, this conception downplays the vast diversity ingrained within the sector. This article looks alternatively at the integral role women play in the logistics workforce currently, and their instrumentality in the future of logistics. Specifically, the article will look at examples of women in logistics management, fulfillment and struggles within the industry, and the future of technological advancement and its influence on gender norms in the sector.
Firstly, looking at examples of Australian women in logistics management and motivations behind their roles is a starting point for evaluating the agency which women do possess in the industry. Jessica Rankin is the operations manager at Mainfreight Australia, and as quoted in LINC, her role originated from a curiosity for international relations, and the complexities involved dealing with various cultural norms and attributes and their respective import and export requirements (2019). Mainfreight is an international supply chain logistics business, supplying both global air and ocean services, with a current share price of $39.82 (Mainfreight, 2019). This large-scaled business has a vital role in the intrastate and international movement of goods and holds stakes in the Australian economy. The role that Jessica plays as operational manager is a key example of women shaping macro-organisations in the logistics industry, with high-scale impact and influence over warehouse and executive teams. Rankin’s managerial role also highlights that roles in the industry transcend manual lifting and physical labouring, which are traditionally seen as male dominated positions.
Furthermore, the 11.063 million women working in the US logistics sector in 2016 (Anna Mateu, 2017) evidence the diversity in the range of positions which are adopted by these females; both physical and administrative. Research analysed by Michael Knemeyer et al., suggested that female logisticians were positive about their careers and positions, and had optimistic outlooks on their future in the industry (1999). Furthermore, a report on workplace gender equality cited in ThomasNet states that hiring women in the supply chain and logistics sector can lead to; improved organizational performance, bettered company status, opportunity for attracting higher quality talent, employee retention increase, and national economic growth (2019). Despite these figures and positive reviews, statistics still demonstrate the barriers for women which prevail in 2019. Women are generally paid less than their male counterparts in the industry (ThomasNet, 2019), and problems arise from work-life imbalance and inflexibility (Anna Mateu, 2017).
After summarising the agency of women in the sector, as well as the challenges which occur despite the benefits, it is important to evaluate future prospects, considering the dynamic movement of the industry. In particular, multiple sources point to the role women will play as logistics continues to become technologized in all facets. With the influx of new technologies requiring robotics and automation, and as the logistics sector increases its role in the global market alongside online sales and same-day delivery, employment in the industry itself will reach new heights (Anna Mateu, 2017). Companies such as Amazon, grocery stores and the growth of Ecommerce are two such examples are requiring a newfound demographic of innovators, problem-solvers and human resource strategists in the sector. Robotics will also decrease the requirements for physical labouring and increase education obligations, which will alter the demographics in the hiring process. Women should be at the forefront of such employment as technology and logistics continue to be intertwined, and this is evidenced in this article’s summary of women in logistics management and how their impact provides incentives for businesses in a multitude of ways.
Anna Mateu, 2017, Why should women work in logistics, Logistics Management. Available at: https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/why_should_women_work_in_logistics
Logistics Information and Navigation Centre, 2019, Gender and Equality. Available at: http://www.the-linc.com.au/gender_and_equality/career_profiles__women_working_in_the_transport_and_logistics_industry/jessica_rankin__mainfreight
Mainfreight Ltd, 2019. Available at: https://www.mainfreight.com/au/en/au-home.aspx
Michael Knemeyer, Paul Murphy and Richard Poist, 1999, Transportation Journal, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 34-41.
Thomasnet, 2019, How Can Industry Encourage Women to Pursue Supply Chain and Logistics Careers? Available at: https://www.thomasnet.com/insights/women-in-supply-chain-and-logistics-closing-the-gender-gap/
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